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The A To K Of Vitamins

The A To K Of Vitamins

It can be mind-boggling going to the health shop and seeing all of the choices in supplements on the shelves. How do you know which one to choose and which one is right for you or your family? Of there seems to be a similar product in three or four different ranges. Is one really better than the other? As well as this, can you really trust the person giving you the advise? These really are important considerations when choosing a nutritional supplement, as research carried out over the last few decades has shown that many chronic diseases in the world are nutrition related. 

No supplement can be used as a substitute for a good diet - yet a good diet is not always enough. Environmental and lifestyle stresses can sometimes increase the need for essential nutrients to a higher level than can be obtained from the diet alone. Long-term nutrient depletion can adversely affect health, and also contribute to serious degenerative diseases. Every bodily function depends on energy producing chemical reactions in the cells. Without adequate vitamins and minerals well as essential proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids, energy and vitality is reduced and deficiencies and illness may occur. Adequate nutritional intake has a large effect on your energy, health, vitality and longevity. In fact without proper nutrients, the body in unable to continue the biochemical and metabolic processes that product cellular energy. 

Pollution, dietary habits and lifestyle factors make it difficult to receive all the nutrients you need from food alone. Therefore, a multivitamin and mineral formula should be included in everyone's diet to ensure valuable nutrients are not missed. 

In New Zealand we have a number of specific nutrients that are deficient in our soils. These include zinc, selenium and boron. When choosing a nutritional supplement, it is important to ensure this has been taken into consideration. A number of New Zealand manufacturers are aware of this, so ensure these vital nutrients are contained in their formulations. There are many supplements that provide their nutrients from a natural or plant based source, such as bee pollen, spirulina, chlorella, barley and wheat grass powder. These provide readily absorbable nutrients in an easily assimilated form. The amount you need to take compared to taking a one-a-day multivitamin is huge though, with often six to 18 tablets being the recommended daily intake. Seek advise about taking nutritional supplements from someone who is experienced in this area and qualified to give you advise. Just because they work in a pharmacy or health shop this does not necessarily mean they are trained to recommend the correct product for you, with your individual nutritional requirements. This is also true wit the many multi-level or direct marketing companies we have here in New Zealand. Anyone can start selling these products after paying their sign up fee. The thought of this concerns me, as we all know that a little bit of information can be dangerous. Many people believe that eating a well balanced diet provides all the necessary nutrients needed for good health. In ideal circumstances this is the case, but in reality there are many reasons why you may need nutritional supplements to help your body cope with today's living environment. 

Some of the reason for the necessity to take these can be attributed to an unhealthy diet, poor lifestyle choices, soil depletion from over-worked lands, pollution and stress. As well as this, consuming anything containing tannin or caffeine for up to one hour after a meal or taking nutritional supplements, will interfere with nutrients absorption ability. This includes black and green tea, coffee, herb teas from green leaves (peppermint, lemon verbena, raspberry leaf etc), anything containing cocoa or chocolate and anything that has had caffeine added to it, such as certain drinks. 

May of us, even those who feel that they eat well, do not eat a balance diet. On average almost 40 percent of calories we consume come from highly processed convenience or snack foods that are rich in fat and refined sugar. These food contain few of the vitamins and minerals we need. In fact, as the body processes certain 'junk' foods, important nutrients are lost, and must be replaced from other sources. Any processed food will contain fewer nutrients than foods that have not been processed. When buying foods, choose wholegrain varieties, preferably from an organic source. This will help to ensure the valuable nutrients have not been refined away. Choose brightly coloured, in season fruits and vegetables - the more highly coloured they are the more antioxidants they contain. 

Remember variety is the spice of life. 

Vitamin Types

Vitamin A - Great for your eyesight and your skin. Natural sources of vitamin A are eggs, milk, apricots, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes. 

Vitamin B - Vitamin B includes B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, biotin and pantothenic acid. Vitamin B helps to give you energy and aids in red blood cells in carrying oxygen to different parts of your body. Sourced of vitamin B include whole grains, such as wheat and oats, fish and seafood, leafy green vegetables, dairy products like milk and yoghurt, beans and peas. 

Vitamin C - Strengthens your gums and muscles. Vitamin C found in citrus fruits like oranges also aids in healing wounds and overcoming infections. Food rich in vitamin C apart from citrus fruits are: tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and strawberries. 

Vitamin D - Helps strengthen your bones and teeth. It also aids in absorbing the calcium required by the body. Foods rich in vitamin D are fish, egg yolk, milk and other diary products.

Vitamin E - Helps maintain your lungs and also aids in formation of red blood cells. Good sources of vitamin D are whole grains, such as wheat and oats, leafy green vegetables, egg yolks and nuts. 

Vitamin K - Helps in the maintenance of bloody clotting proteins. Good sources of vitamin K are leafy green vegetables, dairy products (like milk and yoghurt) and pork. 

You can view our range of vitamin supplements here

Written by Leanne James. Originally published in M2 Magazine. Men's Issue M2.15

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